Atkinson + Eurovision = PERFECT WEEKEND!
It’s not that I’m not spontaneous, I can decide detour to a garden centre for a cake of unknown calorie content and buy a random pot plant with the other crazy cats of the world, but I know for a good weekend a bit of planning doesn’t go amiss. The ingredients I need are as follow –
- Housework. I dislike doing it and people who iron things that don’t need ironing are unfathomable to me, but to be happy, I need a tidy-ish house, so each day begins with a brush up.
- Getting outside. I cannot be happy if I am inside all day, I have to get some air or by evening I feel stagnant and like my insides are grubby.
- Something decent for dinner. Not the usual blah of work-night meals.
- A book for the whole weekend, something absorbing. I poly-read, but sometimes it’s good to find a books to walk into for a long period of time, for the proper escapism of feeling like you’ve been away. And my book for this weekend was Behind The scenes At The Museum.
This weekend was also my appointed favourite weekend of the year, as I love every single thing about Eurovision, and while much of it is funny, no part of me will ever sneer. People work so hard, more than once I’ll find myself welling up in that woman-approaching-middle age-way at all the effort and emotion of others. Sweden put on a mind-blowingly good show this year, and me and my daughter had the telly up loud, big bowls of popcorn, scorecards and flags (printed via my one-yearly frivolous use of printer ink). The little vignettes from each country make me want to go to all of them, the new scoring system made it exciting to the end, and I really love going round everyone to get their points. Some representatives still say things like ‘Hello Sweden, this is Prague calling’ as it reminds of when I was a kid and votes were over the phone and not a fancy satellite link. Europe literally rang each other up. Wonderful. It also seems again to be the most popular way to let Putin know when we don’t approve of him. Congrats Ukraine!
And in-between times I have been thinking that Kate Atkinson is a national treasure and Behind the Scenes… is one of the best books I’ve read in ages. To open with the main character as a zygote, but already imbued with such intelligence that it can realise as the child of shop keepers, it has something in common with Chekhov. The family saga is deep and hilarious, and written in a way that the constant deaths are both sad and entertaining. This weekend I feel like I’ve been all over Europe, as well as down to York and back in time to WWI and also the coronation. It’s funny and touching and no way melodramatic or overly sentimental. It’s scrubbed stone floors and bread baking in a range. Seaside walks with chips and sand castles. Boxes of Daz and frisky terriers.
Our narrator is Ruby and incredibly likeable. When people are mean to Ruby (mainly her mother) I want to reach into the book, slap them and adopt her. And Ruby believes her Teddy is real and can feel his heat and heartbeat, and protects him against all foes, while musing on the Strindbergian and Ibsen-esque gloom at which her mother approaches cooking meals.
Kate Atkinson seems to never disappoint. Douze points!